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Lab Members

Head of Laboratory

Jan L. Breslow, Frederick Henry Leonhardt Professor
Jan L. Breslow

Jan Breslow is the Rockefeller University's Frederick Henry Leonhardt Professor and a senior physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital, where he heads the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism. He and his research group investigate the complex hereditary and environmental factors involved in the development of atherosclerosis, the buildup of artery-clogging fatty plaque that is the major cause of heart attacks.

A pioneer in the application of recombinant DNA technology to the study of atherosclerosis, Dr. Breslow has identified many of the genes that control the transport of cholesterol and other fats through the bloodstream and into or out of body tissues. Some forms of these genes predispose individuals to atherosclerosis, while others protect against the disease, despite such lifestyle factors as diet, smoking, and exercise. By studying the genes in greater detail, Dr. Breslow hopes to learn how to identify individuals at increased risk for atherosclerosis before the condition develops, and to design new drugs, diets, gene therapies, and other treatments or preventions.

Dr. Breslow received A.B. and M.A. degrees from Columbia University and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He then completed an internship and residency in pediatrics at the Children's Hospital Medical Center, in Boston. After a three-year research fellowship at the Molecular Disease Branch of the National Heart and Lung Institute, he returned to Harvard and Children's Hospital. He joined The Rockefeller University in 1984 and was appointed the Frederick Henry Leonhardt Professor in 1986.

A past president of the American Heart Association, Dr. Breslow has also served as vice president of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and chairman of the research committees of the American Heart Association National Center and the New York Affiliate. During 1991-92, he was physician-in-chief of The Rockefeller University Hospital. Dr. Breslow has received many honors, including the 1984 E. Mead Johnson Award of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the 1991 Heinrich Wieland Prize from Germany in Lipid Research, the 1994 Basic Research Prize of the American Heart Association, the 1995 Pasarow Foundation Cardiovascular Research Award, the 1996 Glorney-Raisbeck Award in Cardiology from the New York Academy of Medicine, the 1999 Bugher Foundation award for Research in Cardiovascular Science, the 2000 Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cardiovascular Research, a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health and the Research Achievement Award from the American Heart Association in 2010. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, the Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina in 1996, and the Institute of Medicine in 1997.


Laboratory Manager

Lauren T. Wett
Lauren obtained her Bachelor's degree in Biology and Chemistry from the State University of New York College at Oneonta. After graduation, she began her scientific career as a Laboratory Research Technician at the Genome Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In 2006, she made the move to Boston to pursue a Research Assistant II position at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology. She joined The Rockefeller University in 2008 as the Laboratory Manager for the Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolism.


Senior Research Associates

Peter R. Holt
Dr. Holt graduated from The London Hospital Medical College and following an internship at The London, 2 years in the Royal Army Medical Corps., he came to the United States to complete a residency at Columbia. Immediately after a clinical and research fellowship in Gastroenterology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, he took the post of Chief of Gastroenterology at St. Luke's Hospital, later St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center. At this institution, he trained over 100 gastroenterologists and for 9 years directed the NIH Columbia Gastroenterology Training Program, rising to the rank of Professor of Medicine at the University. He conducted an active research training program at the institution for 35 years until he stepped down as Chief in October 2000. Since then, he has focused on translation research at the Rockefeller University most recently as a Senior Research Associate. His honors include the William H. Rorer Award in Gastroenterology, the AGA Janssen Lifetime Achievement Award in Digestive Sciences and the Solvay International Nutrition Award.

Dr. Holt's research focuses on lowering the risk of colorectal cancer incidence using nutrient supplements such as calcium, vitamin D and folic acid in humans. Since post-menopausal estrogen replacement therapy reduces colorectal cancer incidence and mortality, studies of estrogen administration in post menopausal women were performed showing action through the colon epithelial-vitamin D axis. The effects of obesity and the Western-style diet were evaluated in other human translational studies, performed in the Rockefeller University Hospital under strict nutritional control, using as endpoints, changes in gene expression microarrays, local and systemic inflammatory protein concentrations and histological and immunohistological techniques in biopsies to determine the pertinent molecular pathways involved.
Research: Effect of folate on colonic and blood cells: effect of folate supplementation upon colorectal mucosal and lymphocyte genes and To determine the effects of folate depletion on genes in your colon and To determine the effect of vitamin D and calcium on genes in the colon and Colorectal inflammatory response to a Western-style diet and Low Calorie Weight Loss Diet Effects on Colonic Inflammation and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) reduces inflammation and aromatase expression in subcutaneous fat and inflammation in the rectosigmoid mucosa in obese postmenopausal women: a pilot study and Obesity derives serum factors and cancer

Research Associates

Jose Manuel Rodriguez
Dr. Rodriguez has a special interest in identifying genes involved in human metabolic diseases. As a PhD student at Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas CSIC (Madrid, Spain) he characterized and identified the molecular basis of Alkaptonuria, 3-methylcrotonylglycinuria, and 3-methylglutaconic aciduria; metabolic disorders affecting the catabolism of the amino-acids phenylalanine and leucine. Further pursuing his interest in genetics and metabolic deficiencies, Dr. Rodriguez joined the Breslow laboratory at The Rockefeller University to work on the identification of new genes and pathways affecting atherosclerosis using mouse models.
Research: Atherosclerosis susceptibility genes in the mouse

Manish Ponda
Dr. Ponda has had a long interest in scientific investigation. He graduated early and with honors from Harvard, with a degree in biochemistry. Prior to entering medical school, he spent one year at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center as a bench scientist. After medical school, he completed training in Internal Medicine at NYU Medical Center and subspecialty training in Nephrology at Albert Einstein Medical Center. He joined The Rockefeller University in 2007 as a Clinical Scholar. After finishing the Scholar's Program with a Master's degree in Clinical and Translational Science, he has decided to continue his research in the Breslow laboratory as a Physician-Scientist.
Research: The Relationship Between Vitamin D and Cholesterol and Accelerated Atherosclerosis in Kidney Disease
Rockefeller Early Phase Physician Scientists

Instructors in Clinical Investigation

Jose Aleman
Dr. Jose Aleman has a long standing interest in technology development to study common metabolic diseases as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Aleman migrated to the US mainland to complete a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in 2001. Following a Fulbright Grant to Spain, Dr Aleman completed his MD-PhD studies at Harvard Medical School and MIT in 2009. For his PhD in Medical Engineering, Dr. Aleman developed flux analysis techniques for the study of transgenic mouse models of Type 2 Diabetes in collaboration with the Joslin Diabetes Center. He is pursuing a Medical Research Residency and Endocrinology Fellowship at Cornell Medical Center, while joining the Breslow lab as part of the Clinical Scholars Program.
Research: The Obesity Weight Loss Study: Reversal of obesity-associated inflammation and crown-like structures with acute weight loss


Research Nurse Practitioners

Jeanne Walker

Research Assistants

Jeffrey Barnett

Laboratory Helpers

Ching Wah Yu

Members of the Adjunct Faculty

Ralph Burkhardt
Research: Genetics of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors on the Island of Kosrae

Kie Cundey

Edward Fisher

Lisa Neff

Swaroop Pendyala

Petr Protiva

Daniel Teupser

Changcheng Zhou
Research: Nuclear Hormone Receptor PXR that Links Xenobiotic Metabolism and Aging